Be sure to skip the ad if you watch the You Tube vid. It's very long.
A landmark in the flyover vid is a big pad that was cleared off for an earlier, abandoned geothermal project.
We had lunch at our favorite little Thai place in Hilo yesterday, celebrating Mary's birthday. The owner makes the best green papaya, larb salad and tom yum soup. Afterwards, we went swimming at Richardson Beach and then to Hilo Homemade Ice Cream. I had coconut sorbet and vanilla mac nut ice cream. Mary had ginger ice cream and Terry had roasted coconut ice cream. This was a perfect day.
Both the owner of the Thai place and Mary live in Puna. The owner's house is in a very endangered lava flow area and she is quite worried. [Update: Terry informs me that her house is not in great danger after all. It's above the flow. But there is still the problem of roads being cut off.] We pored together over an unsatisfactory map of the Big Island, trying to figure out for her where the flow was and where it was going. It does not look good if the flow continues as it has been doing. Even people not directly in the path of the lava could be cut off and not be able to get in and out of their properties. Terry is sorry he left out my chin!
I'm detaching myself a little from the worries and day to day hassles of people living down there, offering what little help I have to offer, but I wish Puna residents had a better overview of what happens when disaster strikes. They are not the kind of folks who read Marx and critical theory, which would help them predict what is going to happen. It's hard not to panic in their situation, and panicked people are good targets for exploitation, so I hope they can keep their cool. So here are my two worst case scenario predictions, based on a reading of The Shock Doctrine.
1. People will move out or be relocated. This will start with the removal of residents who live near the present geothermal plant. The plant will be expanded in order to provide more electric power for the tourist industry in Kona. Interested parties will buy up large parcels of land and grow GMO crops there. Already, much of Puna is planted in GMO papayas. Services will get worse and worse until all the marginal people leave or accept a very low standard of living. Unlikely as this seems now, this is all plausible and could happen. It could be a gradual process which would change Puna profoundly.
2.More likely is that Puna will be left to rot. There are so many other places for money to go. With no state money left in the emergency fund and with FEMA turning down the request for declaring Puna a disaster area, there is not much hope. The lack of public funds is now impacting the public directly. Public funding has been taken for granted, even by people who excoriate the government; they don't realize that this lack of government money simply puts them at the mercy of the rich.
I love Puna and the "Punatics" and hope people can go on living their unique lives down there, but they are so on the margins.
Well, here is my megagripe of the day, wide-ranging, hard-hitting!
I almost prefer our previous rulers, who would simply snarl, "Who cares what you think?" if a member of the anonymous herd dared to defy them.What I am beginning to fear is that we have a White House that does not know what it is doing. Or won't tell us what it's doing. Or both. That does not have the necessary information to proceed intelligently in foreign affairs or is simply keeping the information from us. Who killed that journalist? Drone strikes? A few boots on the ground? Why? How is it that we are just now hearing about ISIS? What about those two downed airliners? Why is the access blocked to the site where the plane went down in Ukraine? The Dutch government, I read in Spiegel. de, is promising to release information in September, all from secondary sources and the black box. And the Dutch are also pouring money into trying to find the wreck of the plane that went down in the Indian Ocean!
The Sunday Times was terrible, full of trashy articles about fashion, food 'n fun, and the "art" scene, and trust fund kids and bankers and MDs working for drug firms marrying each other. Honest to god! Are these serious people?
Lena Dunham's get-up for the Emmys really upset the Valley Girls on a Huffington Post vid clip I saw. They did not get it, being satire-challenged media talking heads, or should I say talking heads, hairdos, legs and breasts and various procedures for those not in the first blush of youth. Honestly, the amount of time women take tarting themselves up for this and that occasion: it's nonsense. That's what Lena Dunham is saying with her get-up. She wears what amuses her, and she does not bother to lose weight. I found these atrocities from 2013.
Lena's outfit is no worse than the others, I would say.
Another gripe: I want maps. How I am supposed to understand what's happening in the Middle East without maps? That's why I went this a.m. to Spiegel.de Online, which has great maps which explain so much. Sadly, I did not copy them from the site so can't show them here, and they are gone. It really helps to have the understanding of the geography of those areas that these maps give. Syria is a desert with some cities like oases in it. The warring groups, now equipped with Kalisnikoffs and Japanese vehicles, are sweeping into these cities and creating great carnage. I'm just starting to get a grip on this situation. Not that I can do anything about what's happening, but I don't like being in the dark about it.
We couldn't get streaming Netflix on our Roku box to watch a detective drama (some temporary glitch, no doubt), so we watched The Fisher King on another streaming service. Time certainly has gone by since this was made in 1991: 23 years! It's not just that the devices we all have so many of now did not exist then: that people used landlines and watched video tapes. It was the way this movie tried with great ambition to cover everything you could think of! Not kids and schools and going to the grocery store kinds of stuff, but as Ebert says in a negative review, "urban grit, show-biz angst, two love affairs, the holy grail, the homeless, an action sequence, a dance sequence, and an apocalyptic figure on a horse who rides through Central Park with flames shooting from his head." Oh, and insanity and a horrid murder. The raging AIDs epidemic was probably the #1 big deal in NYC at the time. So they threw that in a little bit about that, too. And a Pinocchio doll. I haven't figured that out, really, except that it is supposed to be about the awakening of emotions, I guess.
Interestingly enough, I can see that elements of this film cropped up later in unlikely places, as in the depiction of the true-blue ethnic girlfriend Anne, played brilliantly by Mercedes Ruehl, later recapitulated in The Sopranos by Drea de Matteo as Christopher's luckless girlfriend, Adriana. I think I can even see echoes of this film in Wall-E, the sad-eyed robot living in a wrecked urban landscape, exhibiting pathos just like Robin Williams! It also reaches back with an Annie Hall like character, Lydia, (Amanda Plumber) a nervous klutz, playing Parry's (Robin Williams) girlfriend.
But above all The Fisher King makes me feel that the times are moving on. No one would make a film like this today. All Hollywood films adhere strictly to formula. This film was made 10 years before 9-11, when it was still possible, if a stretch, for movie audiences to believe in happy endings. Remember the Clinton years? Good years when we could believe that things would get better?
Well, whatever gains we personally made in life we made in the 90's, and these are what we are living off now.
I am concerned about the situation here. FEMA refused funds for Puna. I guess the feeling is that people don't have to be there. The lava is creeping toward Pahoa. It's quite a situation. More on that tomorrow. Mary is going to a meeting this evening where Puna residents will get updates.
Such a thrill. We have two fridges and a freezer, but one fridge and the freezer are in the basement. The fridges do not have freezers or icemakers, so I was trudging up and down to load and bring up trays of ice from the chest freezer. Now this first world problem has been solved!
I'll write a product review after we've used it for a while. It should be a godsend when we have guests.
More: I can see why they are designed for use in making alcoholic drinks. I just had a glass of water with absolutely fresh ice cubes, and the qualitative difference is striking. We get accustomed, I guess, to the off flavors of ice that has been sitting around a while. Really good and worth the money, I think.
Not up to the doom and gloom today but did watch Democracy Now this a.m. and its coverage of Michael Brown's funeral and the Libya crisis.
Today's task is to check through our monthly payments to various organizations and make sure the money is getting through. We got new credit cards, and I'm not sure everyone has been informed of the change.
I'm glad that Big Island Video News is now putting their reports on You Tube. You might want to skip the long, long ad.
Another threat to Puna is a lava flow that is now within two miles of a subdivision and headed toward Pahoa. This map shows the risk factors for lava, from 1, the greatest, to 9 the least.
We live in zone 8, in the coastal area north of Hilo that faces due east. Downtown Hilo, right across the Wailuku River, entering the ocean where the notch is in Hilo Bay, is in Zone 3. Our neighborhood is on the probably extinct volcano, Mauna Kea, and Downtown Hilo is on the active volcano, Mauna Loa.
All the state disaster relief money is used up. This is a slow moving crisis. It's all getting very third worldy: if you have the money and are lucky, it's great here, but if you don't it's very tough.
This was a nice weekend in Hilo. Saturday night we celebrated the 4th of July. What happened was on the regular 4th the fireworks people screwed up. We got a couple of lame rockets, a bright glow, and that was it. We were all going, "What, what?"
So to make it up to us, they had a short but very pretty display last night. I never take pix of fireworks, because even the most skilled photographers can't take satisfactory pictures of them.
My friend Mary, who lives in Puna and is coping with the situation down there, came over with us to the neighbors to watch the display, and she stayed overnight. There were many children there making incredible amounts of noise. This was a very good experience for Mary!
It interested me to listen to what their parents had to say about current events. Their concern is for the future. They are quite emotional about all the killing and worried about their safety and the safety of their children, although we are living in an ostensibly safe part of the world. They appeared to take news reports at face value, I think mostly because they simply don't have the time to study and analyze the media they consume. They want all the wars to stop. They want peace, freedom and safety for everyone. That is a very good thing.
So, after watching this a.m.'s Democracy Now, I checked my Twitter feed and found this:
Born to Run was released 39 years ago today. Now get me a butterscotch candy and the pill thing with the days of the week on it.
So here is my retort to that: my bedside table. The pill box belonged to my late dog Buddy, who needed heart medicine, and now I use it for my heart meds. I like Pour Me Coffee, but from time to time he makes snide remarks about old people, and he needs a little correction. It's mostly ignorance. I guess it would surprise him to learn that old people use Twitter, too, and might read his insensitive remarks. The nice part is that he will get old too, and ha ha!
In line with this, Resident X has written this fine piece, which I am copying here in full. I hope he doesn't mind. So happy 69th birthday, Resident X! I do enjoy his blog, W Center Blog, about life in an assisted living facility. He posts good stuff every Monday.
Headfirst into Eternity
This past Friday marked my 69th birthday. And, while I have never made a big thing about birthdays, I feel that I should comment on this rather unwanted milestone.
You see, the thing about attaining the age of 69 means that next year I will be seventy, and seventy means that I will truly be an old man. Nothing says “old” like “70.” It means that I will be beginning my eighth decade on this planet and, nobody in my immediate family, not my father, not my mother and not my brother has made it into their 9th. Therefore, according to my calculations and considering my pre-destined genetic code, I have about 15 to 20,years left to go before the sweet sting of death removes me from this twisted coil of a planet. But, perhaps I am getting ahead of myself. It’s too early to start worrying about the end when there is still so much crap to get through before that happens. Just the fact that I will be 70 next year is filled with trepidation of its own. Take, for instance, the way people start treating you when you are 70.
In 2010, the time of the last census, there were 4.2 million men between the ages of 70 and 74 in this country. That’s about 10.5%, which makes us old geezers a minority and, you know how minorities are treated in this country. At the very least, we become invisible and, in the worst case scenario, we will be treated with hostility and disdain because, unlike many countries that revere their older citizens, the U.S.A. hates us. We are called everything from “old coots”, “senile”, “out of touch” and my favorite “fragile” as if we were a warning label on a carton of Christmas ornaments from Walmart’s. If you don’t think that this is true, just listen to the news. Just the other day there was a report about a man being assaulted on the streets of Greenwich Village. The reporter began her story with “An elderly seventy-two year old man....” as if the number seventy-two was not enough, the reporter found it necessary to enforce the fact that the man was old by using “elderly”. I guess I could go on and on about age discrimination and the way people think about us seniors but that would be a waste of the little time I have left. I would much rather spend that time trying to convince myself that I am not getting older, just better. You know, more seasoned like a fine Bordeaux. I want to be able to look around at all of the Millennials and Gen-X’ers and realize that I know so much more about life and living than they ever will. I want to look back at them when they look at me with that condescending smirk, scowling at the wrinkles on my face, with a smirk of my own. A smirk that says, “You’ll be old like me one day, except that, instead of being older and wiser, you’ll just be old.”
I would add that the "demotion" that old age brings is probably more strongly felt by men than by women. They go from being at the top of the pecking order to the bottom. We are used to everyday slights like not being listened to or being criticized for our looks and have developed strategies for dealing with the day to day insults. Old age is just more of the same.
This is Terry's latest toy: a coffee grinder that grinds the coffee so it can be used in reusable cartridges in the Nespresso machine. Very well. I thought the point of the Nespresso was that it's convenient and not messy, if not very environmentally friendly, but he wants to try out his own coffee. It's kind of a hobby.
Just finished reading an entertaining novel by Courtney Maum, I am Having So Much Fun Here Without You, which I am contrasting in my mind with Mary Gordon's depressing latest offering. (See below) I am Having So Much Fun is kind of plotty for my taste, but that is the way of popular literature.I'll take this sort of thing over Mary Gordon's Debbie Downer stuff any day. I think she hit a new low with her description of a young heroine washing Simone Weil's filthy hair.
Contrasting these books (Can we still call downloads "books?") is turning into an essay which could be an introduction or a conclusion to my memoir. That thing does keep growing, but it is likely never to be published, by me or anyone. It seems to be centered on the question, "Who am I?" At my age I have a pretty good idea of what I could have and what I couldn't have, given my abilities and circumstances. This does not answer the question, though. Maybe more about this on Monday.
Funny how we adhere to a working schedule around here. We often say to Robert and Susan, "Why do we always go on hikes or out to dinner on the weekends, even when we could go at any time?" Terry does get calls during the week and takes the occasional business trip, though.
I'm taking a break, because we have chronic bad news. Are we going to bomb the daylights out of Northern Iraq in order to save America's oil investments? That man could have been saved, but our gov't decided to let him be beheaded. We could have paid those people a ransom. And why did the executioner have a London accent? What the Hell does that mean?
Our whole economy is built on cheap energy. Just hear the howls that go up any time anyone suggests that we are using too much oil and that we should raise gas prices through a gas tax.
Have a good weekend, everyone, anyway. Carpe diem.
Things are calming down. My yoga teacher, who lives in Puna, announced her engagement. She's German and her husband to be is Japanese. They will go to Germany for the wedding. His proposal went like this, she says: "We've been living together for a long time. I think we might as well get married." Now he is obviously passionately in love with her: just shy and afraid of being turned down. Is this a universal guy thing? Well, he's the quiet type, and quiet is good. I'm glad Terry is so quiet. In my experience, really sincere guys do not wear their hearts on their sleeves. And they tend to be handy.
We have been working right along.Terry has propped things up and trimmed things away, and I have done lots and lots of weeding. Before we left he went on an extermination campaign and got rid of all the termites, which spared us the inconvenience and expense of having to get the house tented. His current project is putting in drainpipes and gutters so that we don't get standing water at the side of the house during big downpours.
Today we'll go to our favorite Thai restaurant in Hilo for som tom, green papaya salad, and Kao mun gai.which is chicken and rice. These are wonderful favorite dishes: Thai Lao in origin. But it's important not to get them too spicy unless you are accustomed to eating very hot food. We got to enjoy this kind of food in Beaverton at the Tara Thai House, a restaurant run by a woman named Lavani and her husband. The restaurant was named after her daughter, Tara. Lavani came to Hilo as a student and graduated from UH-Hilo. The original owners, Lavani and her family, still operate Tara Thai Northwest. I notice that food critic Roger Porter praises this restaurant. He is the ex of my favorite professor at Portland State University, Nancy Porter. Small world dep't.
If you are in Portland and want a really excellent Thai meal, do go to Tara Thai. I order mild to medium for spice. It needs some spice!
Pix from the yard:
Tiny orchids, less than one cm across:
Chameleons at their favorite eating out spot: the fruit fly trap.